Digital and physical shops, social media, search engines, website, apps, online news, blogs, newspapers, influencers, smart TV, radio, podcasts, reviews sites and so on… Marketers and communicators have never had so many touchpoints to consider, analyze and – in many cases – actively manage. Consumers have never had so many occasions and channels through which to discover and experience brands.

In the past, we’ve been describing the purchase journey as a funnel with customers moving from awareness all way down to the desired action. It is such a comfortable, linear representation of the buying decision that it still has residual fans in the marcomms community. However, in a hyper connected world, the funnel has gone forever. The journey has today become an irregular, intricate map of multiple possible journeys. 

To face this complexity, nowadays everyone is talking about integrated or omnichannel communications or marketing. But what does that actually mean? First of all, it means recognizing that as digital technology advances, the lines between online and offline, and between touchpoints, are blurring. Today people show a more and more agnostic approach to the channels they use to communicate and interact with a company and they expect the experience to be consistent across channels. The relation with brands has become more emotional, ubiquitous and personal as it flows mainly through the most emotionally connected, ubiquitous and personal object ever created. Around 70% of global consumers list their mobile phone as their most important device for accessing the internet, according to Global Web Index research*. Smartphones have become globally the number one access point to the web and in turn to most of our “on-life” brand experiences. In this context, successful communication should aim at earning people attention by providing augmented value and putting their interests, aspirations, and goals at the heart rather than interrupting it with trite broadcast-style advertisements. 

Understanding how what happens in one touch point will influence the others is only possible by building integrated information models rather than raw data reporting. And this leads to another key strategic point: the value outcome achieved by focusing on carefully prioritized impact and business metrics instead of millions of single channels metrics. Huge masses of information, data, media flows at an unprecedent speed fuelling the feeling of always being in reactive mode as if constantly under attack. Some years ago, setting up a “war room” would signal something extremely bad or great was about to happen: a true crisis or unique opportunity situation. Today, calling for “war rooms” has become an abused routine to immediately react to the latest small issue or the latest opportunity or trend. Perhaps we should consider creating more “integration rooms” where pressured marketers governing the different touchpoints come together to focus on designing the complete brand experience rather than reacting to something.  Or “invention rooms” where data and creativity get to know each other better; with this meeting of minds we might create something truly transformational. 

*Question: Which of these would you say is the most important device you use to access the internet, whether at home or elsewhere?

 Source: Global Web Index, Q4 2018. Base: 138,962 internet users aged 16-64